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Week Eight: Time to Get in Shape

A good championship race needs a shape.

It's hard to get into any kind of standings race when things are protean, when it's hard to tell who your enemy is.

A strong proponent of shapeless races -- and shapelessness in general.

For Big XII fans, the likelihood of a race without clear front-runners and underdogs will end this week. Five teams with title dreams are involved in significant conference actions, with four of those teams playing one of the others.

But some midmajor races get a jolt before the Big XII separation. On Thursday, Oct. 16, BYU goes to TCU in an 8 p.m. ET game still looking for a television home. The next day, ESPN airs a revenge game with WAC title implications: Hawaii at Boise State, also at 8 p.m. And Western Michigan visits Central Michigan in a game that could decide the MAC West. the game is scheduled for noon but hasn't found a place on TV.

Then comes the Big XII-a-palooza. Kansas at Oklahoma will pit last year's Cinderella against the conference dynasty. Meanwhile, Missouri visits Texas in a game that will have that much more impact if the Longhorns managed to knock off the Sooners in Week 7. And the Red Raiders will try to make an in-state opponent walk the plank in the unscheduled Texas Tech at Texas A&M showdown. Coverage will almost certainly be split between ABC and FSN.

Meanwhile, the Big Televn waits for next week, when it's scramble for the crown will become clearer.